Intrauterine Growth Restriction, Head Size at Birth, and Outcome in Very Preterm Infants

J Pediatr. 2015 Nov;167(5):975-81.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2015.08.025. Epub 2015 Sep 15.


Objectives: To determine whether small head circumference (HC) or birth weight (BW) or both are associated with neonatal and long-term neurologic outcome in very preterm infants.

Study design: All 2442 live births from the 1997 Epipage study between 26 and 32 weeks of gestational age in 9 regions of France were analyzed. A total of 1395 were tested at age 5 years for cognitive performance and 1315 with school performance reports at age 8 years. Symmetric growth restriction (SGR) was defined by HC and BW <20th percentile and in the same percentile range, and asymmetric growth restriction by at least 1 of HC and BW <20th percentile and the other in a higher decile range. There were 2 forms of asymmetric growth restriction: head growth restriction (HGR) and weight growth restriction (WGR). Appropriate for gestational age was defined by both BW and HC >20th percentile.

Results: Compared with appropriate for gestational age, SGR was significantly associated with neonatal mortality (aOR 2.99, 95% CI 1.78-5.03), moderate and severe cognitive deficiency (aOR 1.65, 95% CI 1.01-2.71 and aOR 2.61, 95% CI 1.46-4.68, respectively), and poor school performance (aOR 1.79; 95% CI 1.13-2.83). HGR was significantly associated with severe cognitive deficiency (aOR 2.07, 95% CI 1.15-3.74). WGR was not significantly associated with cognitive or school performance despite higher rates of neonatal morbidity.

Conclusions: SGR in preterm infants was associated with neonatal mortality and impaired cognitive and school performance. The outcome of asymmetric growth restriction differed according to HC. HGR was associated with impaired cognitive function; WGR was not.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight
  • Body Weight
  • Cephalometry
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition Disorders / complications
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / diagnosis*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • France
  • Growth Disorders / complications
  • Growth Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Head / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Extremely Premature / growth & development*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Regression Analysis